By Jim Perry
A pair of quarterbacks will make rare starts Friday when Cushing visits Perkins-Tryon for the 2016 high school football season opener for both teams.
The game will be the first for Cushing High School during “zero week,” one week ahead of the date most teams will open the season. Perkins played a zero-week game a year ago.
Cushing head coach Barrett Shupe and P-T skipper Bruce Williams have thoughts on zero week.
“I think zero week will be OK and will catch on throughout the state,” Shupe said. “You really don’t do much that second week of scrimmages, anyway.”
Said Williams: “I think our kids will be ready for Cushing. We know it’s going to be a difficult game. Like it was a scrimmage, we would be playing a lot of kids to find out who is ready for Friday nights.”
Each also has thoughts on running out a new quarterback: Kade Holderread at Cushing and Austin Westfall at Perkins.
“I think our quarterback will do well,” Shupe said. “He did some good things during practices and our scrimmage. He has improved.”
Williams said Westfall started a handful of games during 2015 before an injury knocked him out of action.
Williams, in his third year at Perkins-Tryon, is 1-1 against Cushing. His team won 50-49 in a wild 2014 affair at McIlvain Field on the Perkins campus. Cushing answered with a 49-3 victory last year on its own O’Dell Field.
The all-time series between the two is 11-10 in Cushing’s favor. Cushing has won three of the last four meetings.
“Playing over there, some crazy things have happened,” Shupe said. “We expect tough, hard-nosed stuff from Perkins.
“That’s part of my stress.”
Shupe said Monday night he and his staff are a bit unaware of what to expect Friday “because we’ve never been in this situation before.”
“I was a little unsure until our scrimmage.”
They will play in a rare situation Friday in the season opener. The Battle of Highway 33 rivals shared spots in District 3A-1 the last four season.
Cushing has moved to 3A-6 with Beggs, Checotah, Bristow, Kellyville, Morris and Okmulgee. Perkins-Tryon has dates at Hennessey, home to McLoud and at Berryhill.
The Demons will have an open date during the final week of the regular season. Cushing’s open date is Oct. 21.
Perkins remains is a realigned 3A-1 alongside Kingfisher, Blackwell, Oklahoma Centennial, Chandler, Mount Saint Mary Catholic High School and Oklahoma Christian.
“If we stay healthy, we have a chance to compete for our district title,” Williams said. “We like our new district.”
He called Cushing a “friendly rivalry for us.”
“I am glad we are playing them now and not waiting until the middle of our district schedule.”
Each team will play all four of its nondistrict games during the first four weeks of the season. Beyond Perkins, Cushing hosts Mannford and Berryhill and visits Cleveland.
Cushing lost heavily to graduation after winning eight of 10 games in 2016. But the Tigers have talented players.
Wide receiver England Honeybuss scored on 12 of his 27 pass receptions as a junior. Trey Morris has returned six kicks for touchdowns in two seasons at CHS.
Matt Yates, a junior, ran for 556 yards during his sophomore season. Kory Wiley had 233 yards in limited rushing attempts.
The Tigers have a pair of talented offensive linemen in guard Hagan Myers and tackle Riley Coffelt. Defensive end Jared Hubble wreaks havoc for the Tigers.
Shupe is 41-17 in games as the Tiger head coach. With limited success in 2016, he will move into second place for victories by a Tiger head coach.
Shupe already leads CHS coaches in winning percentage, at .707.